Mass Effect: Andromeda Review.
Face is still tired... nevertheless, it continues to be a good game
Look, countless reviewers and disgruntled fans have already ripped Mass Effect a new black hole all the way from here to Andromeda and there's nothing that we can say, or do, which will significantly add to the bi*ch-slapping fest that's been going on for the past month or so. This could've easily been another protest review against the "tyranny" or "apathy" of big studios, hell bent on self-imploding a good franchise, but instead, we're going to take an objective dive into the game. Despite its many flaws, Mass Effect: Andromeda still remains a good game. That's it.
That's the tl;dr version folks. You can flip the page now.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
The game takes place between the events of Mass Effect 2 and 3. Basically, before the reapers regroup for their assault on earth, the human clan decides to launch what is essentially a "plan B". The Milky Way races decide to embark on a 600-year journey across the vast emptiness to the Andromeda Galaxy in search of hospitable planets. This means that for all practical purposes humans are now the invaders, or colonists, as the Initiative prefers to call themselves. This sets up an interesting premise: one of discovery, diplomacy, and exploration. Of course things don't go according to plan and you, as the Pathfinder have to make things right. The fate of thousands of colonists in cryosleep (and the Milky Way) rests on your puny little shoulders.
As you would expect, on your quest to colonise a new galaxy you meet hostiles. And what do we do with hostiles? We neutralize them of course, and in this sphere, Mass Effect: Andromeda surpasses any of the previous ME games. The game is able to deliver on its promise of great combat perfectly. When it comes to vanquishing enemies in new and interesting ways, this game is unlike anything you've experienced before. The cover system has improved; for the first time ever, you get to indulge in vertical action - the kind that games like Tribes Ascend or Quake III have created a rabid fan following for.
You can execute jetpack assisted jumps, hover in mid-air to take out enemies behind cover, and even initiate melee attacks from right there, which allows you to land inside the action with devastating biotic effects. This brings us to Item Crafting and Skill Trees. Both mechanics have been beautifully accomplished, letting you create literally hundreds of interesting combinations of mods. Put a shock mod in the legs of your armour and you can infuse electricity into your melee jump landings, destroying enemy shields with ease. Put a plasma mod in a high fire rate rifle or SMG and you have a weapon that melts enemies faster than they can spawn. Exploring which of these crafting mods worked well with our biotic or tech power trees was a lot of fun in itself.
The next thing Mass Effect: Andromeda got right was the visuals. We're talking about the environment, not the animations or character models. The scenes were spectacular beyond a doubt. Each planet meticulously detailed and different. Even the rendering on the ship's galaxy map was superb. The last thing Andromeda got right was the scale and grandeur. The game is overwhelmingly large. We spent about 70 hours doing a mix of side quests and main story to finish the game and it felt like we hadn't even scratched the surface!
The (very) Bad
One of the biggest problems we found was to do with the plot. The storyline was very predictable and the main villain was like a caricature of what a charismatic villain should be. Sarin or Reaper this idiot certainly was not. It also didn't help that the final boss fight was a super letdown (we won't spoil it for you by telling you why).
The second problem was that the game didn't deliver any glory moments. We're talking about the moments in games that give you goosebumps. Like the choice of whether to cure the genophage or not. Or "hold the line" or the utter hilarity of Mordin's rendition of scientist salarian. The third issue is that the goddamn galaxy map transitions were so long, tedious and elaborate that you eventually didn't feel like leaving a planet! First a slow zoom in, followed by a zoom out, followed by an even slower warp jump type animation to reach the object, then a full zoom, then a partial zoom out. Ugh! Enough already. We get it, you've spent a lot of money to make the galaxy map pretty, but spare us the forced tour ****tards! The last issue has to do with the dialogue options Ryder gets. With Ryder, even the so called "logical" options seem illogical. There's this idiotic conversation with a religious character with a Scottish accent who happens to be a scientist. She rationalises her internal dichotomy between the scientific method and religious dogma using a particularly crazy brand of hooey, and all Ryder can respond with is politically correct nonsense.
Now comes the bi*ch-slapping that we referred to in the intro. Games released a decade ago have more realistic facial animations. In fact, there is an NPC in the game that literally says "Sorry, my face is tired from dealing with everything". Deadpan doesn't even begin to describe the kind of faces the characters make in the game.
Tired Face: This is not going to go away anytime soon
The female playable character's face looks like a bag of spanners with eyes that spaz out every now and then. It's terrible to the point of hilarity and it takes you out of the immersion. There was so much of a backlash that Bioware released a patch to fix these animations. We didn't want to play the game all over again to check if the patch solved the problem, so we looked for a supercut on YouTube highlighting the differences. Turns out, the update did absolutely nothing, except maybe to the Tired Face lady. Even with her, the animation is only ever so slightly better, and nowhere near what you'd expect from a game released in 2017. As a YouTuber put it very succinctly, the update feels like bringing duct tape to a car crash.
Game of the year, this isn't; and yet it still is a very good Mass Effect game. You get some of the best RPG elements from the previous games, coupled with spectacular visuals and a fully revamped combat system. It'll keep you engrossed and despite being predictable, you will still binge on it just to know what happens in the end. Have the devs stopped trying? Does it seem like they're just milking the franchise? Sure. But call us chumps and take our money. You, on the other hand, shouldn't pay full price for it. Play the game for sure after a few more patches come out, buy it on sale or borrow your friend's Origin account credentials. Mass Effect: Andromeda is a game you cannot afford to miss.
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